by Judith Brice


by Christine Swanberg

Forgetfulness Stream of Consciousness
in the Age of Corona

From time to time I forget
we are sheltered in place,
because at 70
I’m mostly sheltered in place anyway,
become more domestic,
even Zenlike, with simple chores
like laundry, dusting, and gardening –
filling the time.

Today in the garden, raking wet leaves,
discovering all the life beneath them,
the snow drops that made it
through last week’s tornado that didn’t hit
but sent us into the basement, sirens screaming
(as if we didn’t have enough to contend with),
the crocus surprises left by squirrels,
the promise of lilies, hostas, and so on
Soaking up the sun, the wind,
more manageable, I forgot,
I mean completely forgot,
that just this morning I had to learn
how to order groceries online,
whether I should wear gloves when
picking up prescriptions,
whether cardboard really does
harbor the virus. You know what I mean.
The questions with the answer
Almost always: “Experts disagree.”

But today, I let the wind tousle
my thick dark hair,
let it make a gypsy of me,
a shaman, a tender of gardens.
Let it give me one small moment
of freedom before I snap to my damn senses,
lose the poetic reverie; before I push myself
to my physical limits, pulling lily hairs
out in bunches (so satisfying), shaping
the Lenten rose resurrecting before me.


Waking up to Poetry Month
in the Age of Corona

That moment just before dawn
when the moon grows dim
and mottled and I am having a dream
of sipping tea with a bunch
of Bohemian poets in a bookstore
I’d like to think was on the Left Bank
but was more likely in some
seedy town. The dream has a cozy feel.
One of the poets, a man
with a pipe in his mouth, says
it’s National Poetry Month.

Forgive the cliché:
And then I woke.
And then I woke, nuzzling
the miraculous pillow longer,
wondering why I should get up
at all, what numbers will tally today
like a sport scoreboard strobing
in a game too close to call,
a Hail Mary in the making.

And then I woke up,
worried what rules would change today,
how everything we have done
may not have been enough.
Nonetheless, I say good morning
to my husband wrapped in covers
like a mummy, good morning to the cat
lounging like a queen on the sofa.

Nevertheless, the coffee smells divine
even if it makes me nervous these days,
these days when National Poetry Month
is a luxury I will indulge,
try writing a poem a day,
do what we all do: figure out
how to get through this spring day
the promise of better times,
shaft of sunlight gilding
the ancient locusts at day break.


About the photographer: Judith Alexander Brice is a retired Pittsburgh psychiatrist whose love of nature and acquaintance with illness inform much of her work. She has over 80 poems published in journals and anthologies, including The Golden Streetcar, Vox Populi, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Magnolia, The Piker Press, and Annals of Internal Medicine. On two occasions, Judy received awards in The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize, sponsored by The Paterson Literary Review. She has published four books of poetry, and her poem, “Mourning Calls,” set to music by Tony Manfredonia, can be heard at: